Okay, so I have a confession. It is time for full disclosure and please, I expect you all to berate me for this one.
See, my sister is starting college today. But the deadline to pay her tuition so she could take her classes was last week. I hadn’t received any money from her mom or our dad (she’s my half sister). So I put her tuition for this semester on my credit card.
I chose an installment plan that I had to put $300 upfront (I then repayed this back with the $330 that I had remaining from my yearly savings fund). Then they charged me $700 on each of the 3rd of January, February and March.
The next semester tuition will be due in April.
I have wanted to pay (or help pay) my sister’s tuition. That was part of the impetus for me to get debt free. She just ended up going to college a half year earlier than I was anticipating and getting out of debt (because of my move) has been pushed back a year longer than I expected.
Here is the issue: she’s 17, neither of her parents have residency in Kansas, so she has a choice of either paying in state tuition (using my address) OR getting financial aide (she’ll have to use her parent’s address). Since she’s going to a community college, the in state tuition is most likely cheaper than the amount of financial aide she’ll be able to get that isn’t loan.
So until she is 18 (a year from now) we won’t be filing for financial aide.
She does however qualify for a merit based scholarship after this semester is over that if she gets would cover her entire tuition + $10 in cash for every credit hour she enrolls in. Trust me, I’ll be making sure she applies for this scholarship. I think she’ll be very competitive with it as well.
Okay, so before you think I’ve run off the deep end getting myself in to all kinds of debt, you should know that my dad was FURIOUS when he found out that I put her tuition on my credit card. (I’m sorry Dad, but you knew when her tuition was due, why didn’t YOU pay it?) Anyway, he plans on sending me $500/month to help pay for her tuition, books, living expenses, ect. This will MORE than help out if he does this and keeps up with it.
Also, the plan is that my sister will get a job soon and start saving money to help pay for her food, toiletries, books and part of her tuition starting in the summer.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know – there is also the added problem that my barely 17 year old sister wants to drop out of college and move to Arizona with her BF because she thinks that is “financially more responsible”. She doesn’t want to feel “indebted” to anyone. While I want to scream at her and say “THIS IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIFE IF YOU DO THIS!!”
I have convinced her to stay until the end of the semester. Asked her to work out a budget for how much she would need to spend on rent, food, car, insurance, cell phone, etc. I may be able to use the power of “you’re not 18” to keep her here through the Fall semester. Then, I can only hope and pray the power of “they break up between now and then” or “you only have 1 more semester to finish your AA here” will keep her around until she transfers to a 4-year school. At which point if she wants to move in with her BF I can’t stop her and at least I’ll have done everything I can to make sure she has a strong educational foundation. What she does with it – well – that’s her business at that point.
Okay… so there it is… expect my debt number to go up on my sidebar. But know this is because of my sister’s tuition and I should be getting most of it back (without interest of course).
(Also, knowing that I’m putting money on my card during this time is one of the reasons why I haven’t been 100% in to pulling my money out of my retirement to pay debt. It seems silly to stop saving for retirement to pay down a debt that is actively increasing at this time.)